The following article does not serve as legal advice.
If you've recently launched a new business and you're using a website to build your audience, you'll want to keep reading.
When I think of privacy, I think of my bedroom door – a physical presence. But recently, the concept of privacy and the laws surrouding it have shifted to an intangible thing. The privacy that concerns our lives now is an online one.
Privacy laws regulate the storing and usage of our personal information on the internet. These laws differ from countries and even states.
Overall, there are some key things for all of us to keep in mind. First, websites automatically receive and record information from your device when you visit the Site. This information is stored in log files and is collected automatically. The US Privacy Act of 1974 – contains important rights and restrictions on this data. You can access more information on The Act here. Some important points include:
- The Right of US citizens to access any data held by government agencies (and a right to copy that data)
- Right of citizens to correct any information errors
- Agencies should follow data minimization principles when collecting data – only information that is “relevant and necessary” to accomplish its purposes
- Access to data is restricted on a need-to-know basis
- Sharing of information between other federal (and non-federal) agencies is restricted and only allowed under certain conditions
So how does all of this tie into your website?
If your website allows users to create profiles or comment publicly, consider stating how you use their personal information and what other users might see. Your users will be put at ease knowing exactly what other people can see on their profile.
If you do share your customers’ information, say to whom and for what reason. It’s always best to be transparent about what you’re doing.
If your website allows third-parties to collect information, include who that third-party might be, what they are collecting and why you allowed it. This helps your user feel more comfortable and secure on your site.
Starting with a contract template can be very helpful, but also remember to seek legal counsel when needed.
With the privacy regulations adapting frequently, remember to keep in mind the following:
- Different states and countries have different rules. If you anticipate having visitors to your website from different areas, please comply with those additional regulations as well.
- Be transparent. Many regulations require disclosure of certain facts and so being as transparent as possible is good practice.
Meet the writer. Anchal Goyal holds a BFA from New York University in Film and TV. She is currently attending Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and she hopes to work in the IP field after graduation. Anchal also served as a spring legal intern for OMI Legal LLC.
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